Triton Incident Part II
"The night has been uneventful ... " this is how Lucius' daily report started and as usual, it was completely bullshit. Aside from all the usual hospitality of Triton which includes nightly dust storms (heck, they were more like rock storms), they also had a happy little accident that scared the shit out of everyone. It happened just after midnight, when everyone except Redwyn were asleep. Suddenly violent tremors shook everyone's cockpit followed by loud screeching noises. Believing it was the imminent mercenary attack, everyone fired up their 'Mechs, only to find out Natalie was missing on comms. It turned out that her Centurion's gyrocomputer had overheated in the middle of a 100 mph sandstorm and shut itself down, which resulted in the 'Mech quickly losing its balance and toppling on its shield arm. Naturally it sent its unstrapped pilot flying all over the cockpit. Luckily Sasha got away with minor bruises on her arms but the Centurion was not as lucky. The fall had torn off the myomer fibers in the lower arm actuator. Sensing the myomer structure was damaged beyond compensation, the main computer activated the fail-safe mechanism which locked the arm in its place. Pity, but it wasn't anything worth reporting. It was just a stupid shield arm. Let the technicians worry about it when they get back.
Later on that day, they received a report from the company commander stating that the weather was going to clear out on Friday, two days from today. An attack could only be organized on Saturday the earliest. Fuck. The thought of waiting three more days on this godforsaken planet made him sick to the bone. Even worse, this was going to sour up everyone in the lance and as the lance leader, he had to deal with that too. Instead of lingering on the bad news, he lit up a cigarette, kicked the master alarm, and thought about the good times. The good times being everything before he made the worst mistake of his life, joining the military. The rolling hills of his hometown, the plantations, the farms, the constant smell of animal shit and generally the simple life. Funny. All he wanted back then was to get away from them and be a famous MechWarrior. Now 15 years later as a lowly grunt leading a lance of idiots, all he wanted was to go back. It's funny how life works.
After breaking the news to the lance, it quickly ended up with Redwyn ranting about how Katrina Steiner is a whore and how her mother was a prostitute too. Of course Titus took an offense to this and started yapping about how it was our duty to serve the Steiner. Luckily Natalie had wounds to tend to so he was spared the extra yapping.
That noon, when the roaring winds were at their weakest for half an hour he ordered a maintenance EVA to keep his lance busy. He could barely recognize his Awesome anymore. The bright blue-white paint job was almost completely gone. It exposed the gray protective armor coating that kept the armor underneath happy in all environments. At places, even the coating had some holes in it which exposed the murky green ferro-fibrious steel. It was no good. Even though their 'Mechs Were fully operational, they looked less and less like a proper Steiner unit and more like ragtop pirate bands that roamed the poor periphery worlds.
After the dust filter cleaning was finished, he sent Titus and Redwyn on a recon mission towards the rocky pass lying one kilometer in front of them. Not that he expected any enemy movements or anything, but it was the perfect opportunity to create a distraction for everyone. He and Natalie would stay behind and give them cover. Even from one kilometer away his PPCs had enough energy to punch holes in pretty much everything. He watched while two Trebuchets shook off the accumulated dust as they quickly accelerated to cruise speed. Soon, the two giant Trebuchets were just black specks in the distance.
"Commander? Come in." Titus radioed in.
"Yeah?" Lucius said. "Anything new?"
"Looks like they blew up the pass."
"What!? What do you mean they blew it up?''
"They must have destabilized the boulders at the top with LRMs and autocannons at night during the storm. We're looking at a 15-meter high boulder wall at the entrance. Our Trebs can probably jump over it but you fatties have no chance."
"Roger that, come back for report."
He immediately radioed in to company commander Aldith who was dealing with similar reports from the other lances in the area. He was as baffled as Lucius. They were to stay put until further instructions.
It made no sense. With the passes blown up, they also sealed their fate. When this storm is over they're going to get swarmed by aircraft. If they survive that, they'll have Leopards dropping some Steiner might right on their doorsteps. If they somehow stay alive, they'll soon starve to death.
They were either a band of idiots led by the worst commander ever since or they were really desperate to win some time.
Before it got dark and electrical dust storms killed their comms again, he requested the Thunderwolves profile from the Jumpship in the orbit.
Perhaps these mercs weren't the imbeciles they seemed to be.